Writing Real World Research has been fun and also a lot of work. I read a lot more research than I end up writing about. Academic writing is no easy read and I am eternally grateful to those researchers who manage to slip a little joke in here and there. Some papers are so dense that even if the topic is compelling, my eyes cross and I can’t hack my way through them. I have no one to blame but myself—I decided to focus this blog on research. Sometimes I hate myself for choosing a theme that so often forces me in way over my head.
Still, one of the perks of being a writer is that I get paid for finding out stuff I want to know. Reading and writing about research has taught me all kinds of useful things which, as the blog title suggests, I can take into the real world.
So to reflect on the past year, here is some of the stuff I learned writing Real World Research in 2011 that has been most useful to me.
I’m sorry for anyone who isn’t following the World Series this year (and it’s the lowest rated ever) because boyhowdy it’s been exciting. Some people say it ranks as one of the greatest ever. And so tense! By the end of a game, Texas Rangers fans are nearly as exhausted as the players themselves. (I can’t speak for Cardinals fans but I can guess.)
Baseball can be incredibly slow, but it also can be extremely intense, especially in those moments of suspended animation, when batter and pitcher are face-to-face, poised before the wind-up.
These days, cameras put us right up in the players’ faces. In those moments between pitches, we see what focus looks like. Very few of us will ever experience that kind of pressure. Imagine trying to remain both relaxed and focused when you’re about to have a rock hurled at you at 95 mph. Imagine hurling that rock from 60 feet away into an area roughly the size of a microwave. Imagine keeping performance pressure at bay with 50,000 people chanting your name. (Na-po-li, Na-po-li.)
I recently did something highly uncharacteristic for me: I stood in the blazing Texas heat with tens of thousands of people for the parade celebrating the Dallas Mavericks, who had just clinched the first NBA championship in the team’s history.
I’m a total bandwagoner. I never watched basketball before and ignored the Mavs until the semifinals. Even then, my interest was desultory at best. I kinda sorta watched the first games of the finals because my husband was watching. But by the end, I was hooked. I could follow the game in a rudimentary way, appreciate the beauty of the perfect shot, and had picked my favorite players. (Dirk Nowitzki is my imaginary boyfriend.)
My husband and I had a blast watching the last two games with friends. When the Mavs won, I immediately decided to go to the victory parade, no matter how much of a hassle it was—and it was.
Still, it felt great to be among the giddy throng celebrating “our” boys. People were friendly and kind and happy, and when the float with Dirk and Jason Terry passed, everyone went wild. My favorite moment was when Dirk threw an empty plastic water bottle out into the crowd. I think it was just sheer exuberance, and the bottle was all he had to give. And I bet some fan was thrilled to catch it.
After it was all over and I was back in my deliciously cool, quiet house, I started wondering: What came over me?